UPDATED AT 11:30am EASTERN, FRIDAY: (Washington, D.C.) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday his government’s intention to expand the scope of the IDF ground campaign in Gaza.
The top priority is not so much to topple Hamas but to restore calm. To do that, Netanyahu says, one vital thing Israel must do is identify and destroy the labyrinth of tunnels and underground warehouses that Hamas and other terror groups are using to store rockets, launchers and other weapons under Gaza, as well as the tunnels Hamas is digging under Israel.
“We decided to launch the action after we tried all the other ways, and with an understanding that without this operation the price we will have to pay later would be much higher,” Netanyahu told reporters.
Netanyahu, speaking at the opening of an emergency cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, said that “since there is no way to deal with the tunnels only from the air, our soldiers are doing it now from the ground,” reported the Jerusalem Post.
“The supreme consideration guiding us is to restore security to the civilians and quiet to the state. There is not a more moral army than the IDF, and we do not want to harm even one innocent civilian. Not even one. We are operating only against terror targets.”
On Thursday, just before the ground war commenced, Israeli forces spotted a group of heavily-armed Hamas terrorists emerging out of a tunnel into Israeli territory, heading towards and Israeli village. IDF forces fired on the terrorists and prevented a major disaster that surely would have ensued if the terrorist had reached their destination.
Please pray this will all end quickly. Please pray for calm to be restored. And please pray for mercy for Israelis and Palestinians. It is so painful to see the suffering and trauma on both sides. The Bible commands us to pray for peace — let us be faithful.
LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WAR:
- Total of 20 tunnels under Gaza now found by IDF — “Givati Brigade soldiers have found 13 of Hamas’s tunnel shafts in the Gaza Strip, Ynet reports. This discovery brings the total to over 20 tunnels found in the past day.” (Times of Israel)
- Iron Dome intercepts barrage of rockets over Tel Aviv; rockets also intercepted in southern Israel throughout Friday.
- Israel uncovers 8 tunnels in Gaza used by terrorists to smuggle weapons (Jerusalem Post)
- “Israel kills 20 Hamas men, captures 13, in first hours of Gaza ground op — defiant Hamas fires 80 rockets at Israel; Abbas heads to Turkey for ceasefire talks; IDF tackling Hamas tunnels, infrastructure.” (Times of Israel)
Why the Hamas tunnels are first priority in Israel’s ground offensive — Israel’s air, sea and land supremacy is not mirrored underground, and the country could have woken up Thursday to an entire kibbutz under siege (Times of Israel)
- Uncovering Gazan tunnel routes is critical, says prominent geologist and defense expert — (Jerusalem Post)
- IDF suffers first fatality in Gaza ground offensive — Twenty-year-old Sergeant First Class Eitan Barak from Herzliya was killed in Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
- Krauthammer analysis: A moment of “moral clarity.” (Washington Post)
- Overall summary of first 10 days of Operation Protective Edge: Over 1497 rocket were launched at Israel, 1,093 of those rockets hit Israel, approximately 301 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, and the IDF targeted over 2,037 terror targets, with both naval and aerial capabilities.
- Thursday update on rocket war: More than 158 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel, at least 118 rockets struck Israel, 34 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the IDF accepted the UN request for a 5 hour humanitarian window.
- Hamas rocket cache found in UN school in Gaza Strip — Over 20 rockets found hidden in school run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza Strip; UNRWA says incident “first of its kind in Gaza,” apologizes to Israel; “There is no line Hamas won’t cross,” Israel’s U.N. envoy Ron Prosor says (Israel Hayom)
REACTIONS FROM LEADERS IN THE REGION
- Abbas condemns Israeli operation, but Hamas condemns Abbas (Ynet News)
- Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan says Israel attempting ‘systematic genocide’ in Gaza — In most vicious comments to date, Turkish PM says Jewish state has been trying to conduct mass murder ever since 1948 (Times of Israel)
- Israel withdraws Ambassador to Turkey after anti-Israel riots grow violent (Ynet News)
- Egypt blames Hamas for IDF’s ground offensive — (Jerusalem Post)
- Merkel says Hamas has new weapons, Israel has right to defence (The Star)
- France’s foreign minister traveling to Egypt, Jordan and Israel in push to end Gaza fighting (AP)
- Pope Francis phones Peres, Abbas to call for Gaza ceasefire (AFP)
Learn more about The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.com). This is an organization my wife and I founded in 2006 to educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her Arab neighbors in the name of Jesus, including caring for the poor and needy with food and other humanitarian relief. Read our 2013 Donor Report. Please pray for our team, especially as they care for people in the rocket zone. And please prayerfully consider making a generous, tax deductible, secure, on-line contribution.
- Follow on Twitter — @joelcrosenberg
- Receive every blog post automatically via the RSS feed.